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Permaculture Design Certification Course

Permaculture Design Certification Course in the Darjeeling Hills

Mineral Springs, Darjeeling

27th March to 12th April 2015
21st November to 6th December 2015

Complete Ecological Design Curriculum

Accredited Certification

Homestays in a Certified Organic and Fairtrade Labeled Small Farmers collective "Mineral Spring"

International Trainer: Rico Zook
Certified Permaculture Instructor and Practitioner

Local guest instructors from DLR Prerna

for further info contact:
Darjeeling Ladenla Road Prerna,
c/o Hayden Hall Complex,
42 Ladenla Road,
Darjeeling 734 101,
West Bengal, India.
Phone Number 91 354 2255894

email:  /

The course fees, inclusive of training material, food and lodge:
International Candidates: Rs. 33,000
Indian Nationals residing outside Darjeeling but working in India: Rs. 27,000
Discounts available for Darjeeling hills" residents. Please contact for details

Training venue: “Mineral Springs, Dabaipani, Darjeeling”

Mineral Springs Dabaipani is an internationally certified organic area and fair-trade labeled collective of 456 small farmers since 2002. The farmers have come under the Mineral Spring Sanjukta Vikas Sanstha since 1996. The collective has been marketing small farmers organic tea in the international market, which is grown as a polyculture crop.

The participants will have home stay accommodations facilities with the members of Mineral Spring Sanjukta Vikas Sanstha.

Trainers: Rico Zook ( Guest Instructor: members of DLR Prerna.

A working knowledge of English is required by the participant. We do not look for academic qualifications for the course, except an interest to be part of a sustainable lifestyle and be the change you want to see in the world.

NB: **** DLR Prerna and Rico reserves the right to admit candidates to the course. Candidates will be notified of their participation on receipt of the completely filled application form.

Full Fee deposit is required to secure your spot in this course. Registration without deposit will only hold a spot in the course until we are filled. If you have not deposited the fee by this time your spot will be given to someone who does make the deposit.

Foreigners please contact Prerna for details.


This course is offered at the lowest possible pricing to make it accessible to as many people as possible. As such a late cancellation can have a significant impact on our budget. For this reason we have the following cancellation policy.

6 weeks or more notice: full refund minus 5% processing fee
4 to 6 weeks notice: refund minus 25%
2 to 4 weeks notice: refund minus 50%
2 weeks or less notice: refund minus 75%

Permaculture Design Course Description

Permaculture is a design system to create regenerative, sustainable systems. Envisioned over 25 years ago by Bill Mollison and Dan Holmgren, from Australia, it has now spread to over 120 countries. Though its conception was as a land based system, its effectiveness has moved it into urban settings and to being applied in various social, political, and economic environments.

Permaculture was created through the synthesis of many design systems, with the emphasis on nature as the penultimate one. Similarly, the insights and value of traditional and indigenous practices and knowledge are acknowledged along with the necessity of molding these with our current understandings and the appropriate technologies of today's world. What Permaculture seeks to do is to create three-dimensional designs that are site specific and sustainable. By bringing together elements (orchard, water system, farmer, cow, etc.), techniques (organic framing, natural building, etc.) and strategies (microclimate, relative placement, etc.) a system is designed or altered based on regenerative relationships. It is these regenerative, beneficial relationships that give a system complexity, three dimensionality, and thus, resiliency.

The world can be looked at as the convergence of many different flows. From "natural" (wind, water, soil, etc.) to human (social, resources, transportation, etc.) to invisible (economic, information, etc.) which interact and create patterns. These flows form our world. Recognizing this, Permaculture teaches Pattern Literacy and Pattern Application. This, along with Sector Analysis (site specific flow mapping), Zonation (a tool for structuring time) and other techniques and tools, Permaculture focuses on creating regenerative relationships that are the key to resilient, sustainable systems.

From its inception Permaculture has quickly spread to over One hundred and twenty countries where farms and other sites are successfully applying its' ideas, techniques and strategies. As further testament to its applicability, Permaculture is now being applied in many urban and suburban areas. In many developed countries these applications hold much promise for dealing with the many issues associated with mass populations.

Permaculture in the last few years has been moving into the invisible structures. In the United States a Permaculture credit union has been formed and 'green' investment firms are using Permaculture principles and ideas to create resilient, sustainable investment systems. Environmentalists and social activists are using Permaculture to give depth and complexity to their approaches to many issues we are dealing with today. These applications are possible because Permaculture is a design system that focuses on relationship and not so much on object.

Permaculture is a multi-faceted, in depth design system that will help us create appropriate, site-specific designs that are both sustainable and regenerative.

Permaculture principles are a list of attitudes, approaches, and actions that are practical and not system specific. These along with certain tools and techniques allow for a holistic approach and interaction with any type of system. As a tool of analysis it is an excellent way to look at existing programs, strategies, and interventions to assess their interactions, linkages, and success'. It is a way to reach an understanding of the various influences and flows involved in a system, be it self help groups, village, or organization. Second, it provides insights and principles by which to intervene or interact with a system. As there is neither a truly independent system, nor sterile 'environment' this aspect is of significant importance. Thirdly, as we have already stated, Permaculture is an excellent approach for designing resilient, site-specific systems, be it disaster preparedness, HIV/AIDS, or women's empowerment.

It is important to understand that Permaculture is not so much about giving you new and improved ideas, techniques, and strategies, though there is some of that. What Permaculture does is allow for a deeper understanding of the situation at hand and, with its principles and strategies, a more holistic, effective way to interact with or design a system. What Permaculture offers are skills and principles by which we build our awareness of why or why not something was successful. Through this insight we can build on what is successful and modify others to become more successful.

Stepping up another level, Permaculture is an excellent way to weave together the different parts of an organization so that a unity and synergy can be created. In this way unforeseen benefits and ease will raise within the system.

This workshop will present Permaculture with all of these applications in mind. We will focus on land systems with as much hands on work and examples as possible. In addition, many discussions and examples will be explored of possible applications in what are called the 'Invisible Structures', the social, cultural, political, and economic structures that shape much of our world today.

Subjects will include:

Permaculture Ethics and Principles
Pattern Literacy and Application (physical and invisible)
Energy and Flows
Sector Analysis and Zonation
Water; Harvesting, Holding, and Recycling
Soil, Plants, and Environments
Agriculture; From Your Doorstep to the World
The Design Process
Urban Permaculture
Permaculture in the Developing Countries
Permaculture and Organizations

This workshop will culminate with several groups doing a real life design projects that will be relevant to the site of the workshop. Not only will the teaching be about Permaculture, but it will also model it by its structure and the environment we create together in the course.

This workshop will contribute to the enrichment of its site and each of its participants. With the goal of having half international students and half local students this workshop will not only be an opportunity to learn about Permaculture, it will also offer an opportunity to understand we can create a regenerative, sustainable world together.

The person attending the Permaculture Design Course will not only gain theoretical and practical knowledge on Permaculture at the end of the workshop but will be handed a Permaculture Design Course Certificate. This certificate will enable the participant to be a certified Permaculture Practitioner. This course has been specially designed for the many enthusiasts who are unable to invest two weeks at one go in the East Nepal and Darjeeling and Sikkim Himalayas to get certified.


Richard Rico Zook is a Permaculture designer, consultant and instructor. He works with private individuals, farmers, villagers and local organizations to create cultural and environmentally appropriate life systems in northern New Mexico, India, Cambodia, and places in between. Mr. Zook's work focuses on assisting local and indigenous cultures to preserve traditional knowledge and technologies while adapting to and becoming active members of our rapidly globalizing world. Currently (2011) his year is divided into 6 months in India, 2 months in Cambodia, 3 months in the states, and 1 month in a different place each year.

In India, many of the projects he is involved in are based out of Darjeeling, West Bengal, which is his home for part of the year. These include a bio-conservation project funded by the Critical Ecosystem Protection Fund (CEPF). Utilizing a participatory model, DLR Prerna (a local NGO) and Mr. Zook are training five forest villages in permaculture and working with them to internalize and cycle their resource needs, thus minimizing their impacts on the critical bio-corridor in which the villages are located. A team headed by Anugyalaya (another local NGO), and including Prerna, the Catholic Diocese and Mr. Zook, have initiated the design process on a 16 acre Permaculture demonstration and education site. This process and the design implementation will be a hands-on experience for several local, long-term students of Mr. Zook. Other projects in the planning stages include: tea worker trainings in Permaculture for improved quality of life (e.g. water processing and cycling for health, home gardens, humanure, etc.); and conversion of a working tea estate to a socially just and environmentally appropriate model.

In south India Mr. Zook works with several private clients whose projects include a university, a healing centre, a children's camp, and assisting local farmers and tribals convert to organic agriculture. Past projects have included wetlands construction for wildlife, a children's school, and many private consultations on farms and homesteads. An ongoing focus is the conversion of a traditional family farm into a model of sustainability and Permaculture. Located 15km south of Udipi in the state of Karnataka Punarvasu Farm annually hosts several work weeks for foreigners and Indians with hands-on learning and cultural immersion.

In Cambodia Mr. Zook is building a network of projects and associations with NGO's similar to that in India. He also conducts several trainings for Khmer farmers, as well as assisting in the development of several demonstration sites. This past year he trained a group of teachers from the Teacher's College in Siem Reap, and is working with them to develop a curriculum that will become part of the government's Life Skills Program that is part of the public school's curriculum.

In Taos, New Mexico (USA) Mr. Zook is working with the Hanuman Temple in creating a 5 acre urban Permaculture farm. He is also working with the San Cristobal Youth Ranch in converting to a holistic ranch model, as well as interacting with youth campers in educating them with hands-on applied Permaculture techniques and strategies. At times he provides consultations to private clients.

Every year Mr. Zook visits new sites, meets new NGO's, and teaches numerous courses, from 1 day introductions to 2 week design courses with certification, for farmers, villagers, NGO workers, and foreigners. This year will be the 7th annual Permaculture Design Course in Darjeeling, the longest running course of this type in India. He is always open to inquiries and requests. He also accepts qualified apprentices.

In addition to academic and professional credentials, Mr. Zook has spent more than 25 years living in nature, including long-term residencies in California's Yosemite National Park, the demanding Sangria de Cristo Mountains of Northern New Mexico, and as a homesteader in Northern California wilderness. For more than a decade as Land Manager for the Lama Foundation, a spiritual community and retreat center North of Taos, NM, Mr. Zook designed and transformed the rugged, semiarid high-altitude site that had been decimated by wildfire into one of beauty and productivity. Using permaculture practices and a lifetime of observation and interpretation of the natural world and how to create human harmony with it, he has built a visible and successful permaculture demonstration and teaching site. It is a model of design integrating the needs, resources and yields of community and nature in proactive and abundant ways with respectful and restorative impacts on the environment.

Mr. Zook is a graduate of Sonoma State University, from which he holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Environmental Studies focused on land restoration, with minors in Biology and Philosophy.

For more information about Mr. Zook and his work go to

Darjeeling Ladenla Road Prerna (DLR Prerna) : 2015

DLR Prerna is a Darjeeling based NGO working in the Darjeeling Hills since 1996.
Vision Statement
Darjeeling Ladenla Road Prerna believes in a world that sees the need to live as one family where the environment is preserved and protected, where conscious efforts are made to remove unjust structures while striving to build a just and humane society.
Mission statement
Our mission is to build sustainable human communities in the Darjeeling hills and the adjoining areas by promoting peoples participation, gender equality and living in harmony with the environment.

DLR Prerna has undertaken community development of Harsing Dabaipani and Yangkhoo Busties(Villages), Darjeeling. Mineral Spring Sanjukta Vikas Sanstha (MSSVS) has been established by the communities with 440 families as members in 1996. It is the first certified organic small farmers in Darjeeling, undertaking poly-culture farming and selling tea as Mineral Springs Tea in the international fair trade market. For this experience MSSVS and DLR Prerna is mentioned in the World Resources 2005.

A member of DLR Prerna are accredited organic certifying inspectors with Institute of Market Ecology India specializing on small farmers.

DLR Prerna has conducted and been part of researches with specific references to the issues of the Darjeeling Hills including the Area and Issue Profile of Darjeeling and Sikkim and Village Level Planning on Developing a Transboundary Conservation Landscape in the Kangchenjunga Complex – Senchel & Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuaries.

DLR Prerna has also managed and implemented all the programmes of Anugyalaya DDSSS from 2001 primarily focusing on small farmers organics and community based disaster preparedness. In 2006 November DLR Prerna phased over Anugyalaya DDSSS as we feel the capacity of the organization has been enhanced to manage her own programme.

DLR Prerna has been instrumental in community and student campaigns like:
* Clean and Green Darjeeling
* Campaign for the judicious use of plastics
* Clean Darjeeling Clean River Rungeet – focus on Solid Waste Management with the Darjeeling Municipality

DLR Prerna has been a founder member of the Darjeeling NGO Network, a network of 11 NGOs in the Darjeeling Hills who come together to share expertise and resources and have in the recent times undertaken the campaign, "Conserve Water Reduce Your Waste".

In the past two years DLR Prerna has initiated a community-based sustainable livelihoods option conservation efforts with 5 villages in the fringes of the Singalila National Park, Darjeeling.

In 2011 taking the community conservation efforts forward, DLR Prerna is engaging with the Forest Villagers, looking at human wildlife conflict management.

DLR Prerna is pioneering Permaculture Design Courses in the Darjeeling Hills, offering certified basic course with Mr. Richard Zook as the trainer since 2005. Shorter term courses for farmers are being facilitated by Rico and the DLR Prerna team in the local language.